One challenge I've faced in the writing process is getting good feedback from beta readers. Do I simply ask them what they think? Do I ask different questions of each based upon their likely strengths and interests? Do I pepper each with dozens of questions until they hate me more than Herbalife?
But now I've come up with this one weird trick: I developed a simple questionnaire and appended it to the end (call the Department of Redundancy Department) of the manuscript. It worked well. I got multiple answers to my baseline concerns, and it gave me a starting point for follow-up conversations. I think it also helped my readers, since they didn't have to guess at my needs.
And here it is: feel free to use it as-is, modify it, or simply use it as a starting point for your own. Hope you find it helpful!
Thank you for reading my manuscript, _______________. You’ve given me your most valuable asset--your time--and for that I’m truly grateful. May I also ask for a little more time, and your opinion, in answering the below questions? Of course you don’t have to answer any of them, but the more feedback you can provide to me, the better I can make the story.
- Did you enjoy the story? If you’d paid money for it, would you feel satisfied with the decision?
- In one (or more) word(s), how would you describe your thoughts/feelings about the story?
- What did you find surprising or unexpected? Was that a good thing or a bad thing?
- Did you find the characters relatable? Likeable? Any in particular you did or did not like? Why?
- Did how you feel about any of the characters diminish your enjoyment of the story?
- Did you find the plot believable? Any holes or moments where you had to suspend disbelief? Did any of that bother you?
- How did you feel about the ending/resolution?
- Did any parts of the story drag? Anything you would cut?
- Were any aspects confusing?
- What do you believe is the correct age group for this story?
- Is there anything you would recommend be changed?
- Any other comments or feedback?